Using a Tanto Knife: the Pros and Cons

The Tanto blade shape is amongst the most unique and misunderstood blade shapes. Many people assume that it is basically a Japanese gimmick that is used to pierce or slice through things. However, it is much more than that. The two most popular versions in the world tend to be the American and Japanese versions. 

The American Version vs Japanese Version of the Tanto Blade

If you have ever come across a tanto knife, you will discover that Americans were very interested in learning cool stuff and techniques from other countries back in the day. And the American version of the tanto knife was one of them. The original knife enthusiast Americans came across the Japanese tanto knife and thought it needed some changes to fully incorporate their vision. 

Today, many people confuse the two and try to argue which one is the best. The reality is that none is better than the other. However, the two share a set of benefits and drawbacks in addition to how they are and should be used. This is why it is important to know the difference. 

The American Tanto Blade Shape

The Western version of the Tanto is usually referred to as the American version or the “geometric tanto”, featuring a very edgy look and feel. This blade type and shape catch a lot of attention when it is set aside from other blade shapes simply because it stands out. The primary reason behind it is that it has a tacticool feel to its design as compared to the boring old drop point. 

Additionally, the American Tanto features a primary point where the cutting surface shoots down straight or very close to being straight immediately, where the second point is. 

This secondary point is where the blade takes a harsh turn, sometimes even at 45 degrees. Then, it shoots back to the handle in a flat or near-flat manner. Furthermore, the blade’s spine is typically flat or close to being flat from the handle while it reaches out to the initial point. 

This means that the American version has two edges and two points, even if the spine is not sharpened. Although some people might call it a double-edge blade but technically it isn’t. Depending on the laws of a country, some lawmakers might call it a double-edge, while others will not. 

When it comes to sharpening the American Tanto, it should be made sure that the edge between the two points as well as the edge between the handle and the secondary point is sharpened separately to avoid the rounding off of the secondary point. 

The edges of the American Tanto have two different uses in operation. For instance, you can actually cut open letters and boxes using the front edge between the two points. As mentioned earlier, even though the tanto is used and most famous for its violent piercing mechanism but in reality, it is used to open things with great precision. 

Meanwhile, the secondary point along with the handle makes for a very good slicing and cutting surface. Next, talking about the piercing capability, some tanto knife makers have put in a lot of time and effort to boast their excellent piercing capable blades. 

Perhaps the biggest feature of the American tanto is that it is incredibly thin yet strong and durable at the same time. As a result, you can pierce deeper with less effort when compared to other blade shapes and types. 

The Japanese Tanto Blade Shape

The Japanese Tanto Blade Shape, which is also referred to as the traditional version, looks more like a cross between a drop point and a trailing point blade. This means that the blade’s spine is somewhat flat until it nears the tip where it swoops up to meet a belly-created point that dramatically swoops up as well. As a result, you have a strong tip and cutting edge that is excellent for both combat and utilitarian use. 

Tanto Blade Advantages

Tip Strength

If you own the best tanto knife there is out there, you will observe that its tip strength is beyond surprising in terms of strength and piercing capability. The triangular shape leading to the tip features comparatively more reinforcement than a drop-point or spear-point. However, this does not mean that you go on stabbing whatever you can find.

You can use it for cutting food, opening boxes, and several other purposes that other knives or blades cannot handle. 

Excellent Quality

One of the most important tanto knife benefits relates to its quality. Even though the Americans have put up a tough competition with the Japanese version but there is nothing beating the original Japanese tanto knife. It is made using the high-quality steel available and the craftsmen never compromise on using the latest techniques. 

At the same time, China has joined the race too since it is able to produce inexpensive knives with impressive value. But still, people prefer buying the Japanese version since the history of making tanto knives dates back hundreds of years if not thousands. 

In the Field Serviceability

Since Tanto blades feature two flat edges without a curve, you can easily sharpen the workable edge if you do not have sharpening equipment with you. Even though Tanto knives receive a bad reputation for being impractical but this is one of the biggest tanto blade advantages. 

However, this does not mean that sharpening a tanto knife is that easy. You can sharpen it against the edge of your car glass windows or bring a sharpening stone along. 

Tanto Blade Disadvantages

Sharpening is a Pain

Sharpening a tanto knife is both easy and painful at the same time. Due to the knife having two separate bevels, it feels as if you are working on sharpening two knives since you have to switch between which bevel you need to sharpen. 

Meanwhile, getting a consistent edge is not that difficult on most tanto knives since the blade does not have much of a recurve. 

Slicing Tasks Can be a Bit Difficult

Tanto blades are a bit impractical if you are using them to cut through rough materials. Letters, boxes, and all other types will work but materials such as plastic, etc. will give it a tough time. In such cases, you should use a spear or double-point blade.

Final Word

Tanto knives are excellent blades for everyday use. You can simply buy one that fits into your pocket and can be used to slice fruits and cut open meat and letters etc. And the best part about these knives is that they are affordable. You do not necessarily have to spend on expensive knives. Simply opt for the one that serves your purpose. Initially, the tanto was created as a weapon but with time it has evolved into a versatile knife. Depending on the user preferences and needs, they can opt for different designs available today.

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